David Byrne

The Catherine Wheel

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Since the breakup of Talking Heads, David Byrne's solo work has been notoriously inconsistent. But before that band's dissolution, he made a couple of very fine albums on his own: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (with Brian Eno) and The Catherine Wheel, a musical score commissioned by Twyla Tharp to accompany her dance project of the same name. Byrne's score is always interesting and frequently brilliant; it draws on the instrumental talents of such session greats as drummer Yogi Horton, percussionist John Chernoff, guitarist Adrian Belew (who had been recording and touring as a sideman with Talking Heads), and, inevitably, Eno. Horton's drumming establishes a muscular funk foundation for much of the material, which also showcases Byrne's underrated guitar playing. Only the lyrics disappoint; they consist almost entirely of clich├ęd and predictable depictions of domestic suburban angst. Highlights of the program include "The Red House," with its eerie use of deconstructed vocal samples, and the lovely faux-juju "Ade." Highly recommended.

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